THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please be seated.  Let me start by thanking Acting Secretary Gibson for welcoming us here today.  I am pleased to be joined by our Vice President, Joe Biden, from leaders across this department, and our many partners, particularly representatives from our incredible veterans and military family service organizations.

I want to begin by making a basic point:  Those of you who serve here at the VA do absolutely vital work every single day for our veterans and their families.  I know how deeply you care about our veterans.  Many of you are veterans yourselves -- veterans serving veterans.  You help them transition to civilian life, go to college, buy their first home, start a new business.  You have some of the best doctors and nurses in the country and provide some of the best specialized health care.  At our national cemeteries, you lay our veterans to rest with dignity and compassion.  I know that millions of veterans are profoundly grateful for the good work that you do.  And I am grateful, as well.

But we're here today because of problems that have outraged us all.  That includes the inexcusable conduct that we've seen at too many VA health care facilities.  So I’m here for two reasons -- to update you and the American people on how we’re fixing these problems, and to announce my choice for the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs to help move us forward. 

The first thing everyone should know is that those responsible for manipulating or falsifying records at the VA -- and those who tolerated it -- are being held accountable.  Some officials have already been relieved of their duties.  Investigations are continuing.  And as I’ve said, where we find misconduct, it will be punished.  And I’ve made it clear that I expect the VA’s full cooperation with all the ongoing investigations into wrongdoing. 

Second, we’ve reached out to 135,000 veterans so far to get them off those wait lists and into clinics.  We’ve added more staff, sent mobile medical units, and we’re making it easier for veterans to use hospitals and clinics outside the VA.  And we’re going to keep at it until every one of our veterans is off a wait list and they receive the care that they have earned.

Third, we’re moving ahead with urgent reforms at the Veterans Health Administration.  That 14-day scheduling goal has been removed from employee evaluations so there is absolutely no incentive to engage in inappropriate behavior.  Providing the highest quality care when our veterans need it -- that’s your incentive.  There will be new measures of patient satisfaction from the veteran’s perspective.  And today’s outdated VA scheduling system is going to be overhauled with the latest technology.       

More broadly, the review that Rob Nabors conducted of the VHA found -- and I’m quoting -- “significant and chronic systemic failures,” including too little responsiveness, transparency and accountability.  And that is totally unacceptable.  It recommends that the VHA be “restructured and reformed” with stronger management, leadership and oversight, as well as more doctors and staff.  And I totally agree, and we’re going to make that happen. 

I’ve asked Rob to remain at the VA for now to help move these reforms forward.  Hiring of new VWA [sic] leaders has been frozen -- VHA leaders has been frozen to make sure the new team we’re putting in place is the right one.  And based on the recommendations of our panel of experts, I will be nominating the next leader of the VHA.  I want to get the best leader on the job and get going on these reforms.  And we’re going to work with Congress to make sure that the VHA has more of the doctors and resources it needs to deliver the care that our veterans deserve.

Fourth, we’re instituting a new culture of accountability.  The very idea that senior VHA executives would receive bonuses this year rightly appalled many Americans.  And those bonuses have already been cancelled.  A review is now underway to make sure that when employees speak up about a problem, action is taken -— not to intimidate or retaliate against the employee, but actually to fix the problem.  Everyone is going to be held accountable for doing better.  And Congress can help by giving the Secretary more authority to remove senior leaders.

Finally, we’re rebuilding our leadership team here at the VA.  I want to thank Sloan and others here who have stepped up to serve in new roles during this critical time.

And I have to say, Sloan, you have been an outstanding driving force behind the reforms that are now underway.  We’ll be relying on your steady hand during this period of transition and through your continued service as Deputy Secretary.  And I know all of you will have an outstanding partner and Secretary in my choice to lead the VA going forward -— one of our nation’s most accomplished business leaders and managers, Robert McDonald.  

Now, I’ve gotten to know Bob a bit over the years.  He’s come to the White House to share his perspectives as we’ve worked through complicated issues.  He’s no-nonsense.  He’s pragmatic.  He does not seek the limelight.  He repeats a Japanese saying -— he worked and lived in Japan for six years while at Procter & Gamble.  The saying goes:  “He who climbs Mount Fuji is a wise man; he who climbs it twice is a fool.”  (Laughter.)  Now, Bob actually climbed Mount Fuji -— once.  (Laughter.)  Bob is a wise man.  (Laughter.)  And if you need any more evidence that he’s wise, you need to meet Diane and his family who are here today, because they are a wonderful family, and obviously they’ve served along with him in the past. 

For Bob and his family, the mission of caring for our veterans is deeply personal.  His father served in the Army Air Corps after World War II.  Diane’s father was a POW.  Her uncle was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and still receives treatment from the VA.  So this is not an abstract mission for them.

Bob is a veteran himself.  He graduated from West Point, where he and Sloan were classmates, so this is a bit of a reunion.  Bob served as an Army Ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division.  Back home in Cincinnati, he and Diane have teamed up with the USO to honor our veterans.  

But what especially makes Bob the right choice to lead the VA now is his three decades of experience in building and managing one of the world’s most recognized companies, Procter & Gamble.  The VA is not a business, but it is one of our largest departments -— some 340,000 employees working in more than 1,700 facilities, serving nearly 9 million veterans.  And the workload at the VHA alone is enormous -— some 85 million appointments a year and some 25 million consultations.  

As CEO of Procter & Gamble, Bob oversaw more than 120,000 employees, with operations around the world, selling products in more than 180 countries, in more than 2 million stores, reaching some 5 billion customers.  In other words, he knows the key to any successful enterprise is staying focused on the people you’re trying to serve.  He’s renowned for his operational excellence.  He started his career out in the field and worked his way up, serving at virtually every level of Procter & Gamble.  He understands that grand plans are not enough.  What matters is the operations that you put in place and getting the job done.

Bob is an expert at making organizations better.  In his career he’s taken over struggling business units.  He knows how to roll up his sleeves and gets to work -— putting an end to what doesn’t work; adopting the best practices that do; restructuring, introducing innovations, making operations more efficient and effective.  In short, he’s about delivering better results.

He also knows the importance of building what he calls a “high-performance team” -— putting the right people in the right jobs, rewarding them when they do well, and holding them accountable when they do not.

And, finally, Bob is known for his integrity.  He’s still guided by that cadet prayer from West Point:  “Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”  He served our country in uniform.  He’s now prepared to answer the call once more.

So let me state the obvious -- this is not going to be an easy assignment.  Bob knows that.  But like any Army Airborne Ranger, Bob has a reputation for being ready, jumping into tough situations, taking charge, and going “all the way.”  So Bob, on behalf of all of us -- to you, to Diane and your family, thank you for your readiness to serve again.

My bottom line is this:  We’ve got to change the way VA does business.  Over the past five years, this agency has done some excellent work in dealing with a whole range of real difficult challenges.  And I don't want people to forget that.  We have had a huge influx of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  We have had -- I think had to manage what was a good decision to make sure that folks who previously had difficulty accessing VA services were finally admitted, whether it was because they had PTSD, or folks with cases previously of Agent Orange, all of which meant more people coming into the system.  We have had to get up and running, and it’s now -- we’re doing quite effectively work in terms of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to make sure that our young people are able to get the training they need after they leave our military.

So across the board, there’s been some terrific work, but there’s a lot more that has to be done.  We’ve got to fix some things that are broken.  And Sloan has started that process, but we’re going to have to keep in driving until we get it done.

We’ve got to regain the trust of our veterans with a VA that is more effective, more efficient, and that truly puts veterans first.  Bob is the manager we need to help get this done.  So I urge the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.

I also urge the Senate to finally confirm my nominee for CFO, Helen Tierney; my nominee for Assistant Secretary for Policy, Linda Schwartz; my nominee to lead the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, Constance Tobias.  They have all been waiting and waiting and waiting for a vote -- in Constance’s case, for more than a year.  We need them on the job now, and Congress needs to act and help us do right by our veterans.

And we’ve got to do right by veterans like Corporal Kyle Carpenter.  Some of you may have seen the story of Kyle.  I recently had the privilege of presenting Kyle with the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan where he used his body to shield his best friend from a grenade blast.  Kyle spent two and half years in the hospital.  He endured nearly 40 surgeries to rebuild his body and his face, and he’s gone through excruciating rehab.  And to see him standing in the White House, strong and proud, receiving his Medal of Honor, was something I will never forget.  It was an inspiration. 

Today, Kyle is medically retired, so part of his journey of recovery has involved the VA.  On the one hand, he’s now in college and with the help of his VA educational benefits.  And it’s an example of the good work that the VA has done.  On the other hand, his experience with VA health care has often been frustrating.  He said it was okay that I share this with you today, so I just want to use Kyle as an example.  He is an American hero -- by any definition.  Sometimes we use that word too loosely.  This guy is a hero and deserves everything we can do.

But like other veterans, Kyle sometimes had trouble just making an appointment, or had to wait a month to see his doctor, only to be referred to another doctor and wait another two months for that appointment.  He often felt like a number, he said, being passed between doctors, who sometimes didn’t know his situation or why he needed a certain medication.  He’s relied on the help of a patient advocate.  But at so many steps along the way, it’s just been a lot harder than it should have been.  As his advocate said, it “shouldn’t be this way.” 

So the VA does many things well -- like delivering Kyle’s educational benefits.  And we need all of you to keep doing that important work, like reducing the disability claims backlog, and improving care for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, building on the good work that’s already been done in reducing homelessness among our veterans, helping veterans get their education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and helping find new civilian jobs so they can enjoy the American Dream they help to defend.  And it’s a good time to mention the great work that the VA has done with Jill Biden and Michelle in partnering with the private sector so that that transition from military to civilian life is a lot easier for our veterans.

But when it comes to delivering timely, quality health care, we have to do better.  We have to do better for Kyle.  We have to do better for all our wounded warriors.  We have to do better for all our veterans, from all our wars.  They’re looking for us to fulfill Lincoln’s pledge -- to care for those who have borne the battle and for their families and survivors.  I’m confident we can do that.  And so long as I am President, we’re going to keep doing everything in our power to uphold what is a sacred obligation.        

With that, I want to invite Bob to say a few words.  Thank you so much, Bob, for taking on this assignment.  (Applause.) 

MR. MCDONALD:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Mr. President, thank you for your confidence in me that this nomination demonstrates.  It would indeed be an honor and a privilege, if confirmed by the Senate, to serve as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to improve the lives of our country’s veterans and to help change the way the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does business.

Mr. President, in your remarks just now, you’ve made it clear what you expect -- a VA that is more effective, more efficient, and that truly puts our veterans first.  If confirmed by the Senate, my priority would be to lead that transformation.

     My life’s purpose has been to improve the lives of others.  I went to West Point to be an officer in the Army to try to help free people who were living in non-free societies.  I became an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer in the 82nd Airborne Division because I wanted to be on the front line in leading that change.  I joined the Procter & Gamble Company 34 years ago because of its purpose, which is to improve the lives of the world’s consumers.

     Mr. President, thank you for mentioning my father, Diane’s father and uncle.  Yes, for our family, taking care of our veterans is very personal.  We need to put care for the veteran at the center of everything that we do at Veterans Affairs.  At Procter & Gamble, we always focus on our customer.  At the VA, the veteran is our customer, and we must all focus -- all day, every day -- on getting them the benefits and the care that they’ve so earned.  That’s the only reason we’re here.  I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of the Veterans Affairs to accomplish this mission. 

I’d like to thank my family for supporting me throughout my life, but especially during this next chapter.  My wife, Diane; my daughter, Jenny; my son-in-law, Scott; and my son, Rob are all here today.  My parents and Diane’s mother could not attend today, but thank you for your love and support.

     Thank you again, Mr. President.  I look forward to working with you to transform Veterans Affairs to better serve our country’s veterans. 
     Thank you.  (Applause.)
                                       END          4:51 P.M. EDT

Supreme Court Delivers Blow To Unions

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Harris v. Quinn on Monday , saying partial public employees can't be required to contribute to unions.

According to SCOTUSblog, the 5-4 ruling is a "substantial obstacle to expanding public employee unions, but it does not gut them." SCOTUSblog also notes the case does not involve "full-fledge public employees," but rather says that union bargaining fees cannot be imposed on employees that are not full public employees.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion in the ruling.

2014 Senate Races May be 50-50

These 12 battleground U.S. Senate races take place in a country deeply discontented with the state of the country, all national leaders, and political parties.  With 10 of 12 seats held by Democrats but won by Romney by 8 points in 2012, this will be a competitive year to be sure. Nevertheless, Democratic incumbents and challengers are out-performing Obama in these states, while Democratic intensity matches that of Republicans, and the U.S. Senate vote numbers suggest the parties could well split these seats, putting the Senate at close to 50 for either party.
This survey is the first survey conducted in the U.S. Senate battleground by Democracy Corps and Resurgent Republic for National Public Radio.[1]
The Republican Senate candidates have a 3-point advantage, 46 to 43 percent in the Senate generic ballot – still within the margin of error, but perhaps an edge.  But Romney carried these states by 8 points, so the Democratic candidates are running better than Obama despite massive advertising campaigns to link them to Obama and to attack them for ‘Obamacare.’  That is not a bad result and the question of control is far from settled.
But U.S. Senate races usually break toward one of the parties: the President’s standing here makes a Republican break more likely, while the standing of the Republican Party and Republicans in Congress could produce a break the other way.

  • Democratic and Republican partisans are equally intent on voting in the battleground. The national pattern of reduced voter enthusiasm and turnout prospects, particularly among Democratic base voters, may be offset in the Senate battleground where stakes are high and campaigning is intense.
  • President Obama is weak in these states, particularly on the economy: 38 percent approve of his performance, falling to 33 percent among Independents. Approval of Obama’s performance on the economy is slightly lower and Republicans have a 10 point advantage over Democrats on handling the economy.
  • But the Republican Party is also very weak and is a serious liability even in these Red states.  In these Romney states, voters have more favorable views of Senate Democrats and its leadership than they do of Senate Republicans and Republican leadership in the House.  While just a third (32 percent) approve of the way Democrats are handling their job in the Senate, just a quarter (25 percent) approve of the way Republicans are handling their job in charge of the House – the leaders defining Congress and public perception of Washington gridlock.
  • Intense doubts about House Republicans and GOP governors could play a role. Many of the Republican candidates have come out of the House of Representatives or played big role in Republican-controlled states where voters have turned on the governors. Indeed, President Obama’s approval is higher than Jindal’s in Louisiana.
  • Fate of the middle class is stronger ground than the economy. Republicans have an advantage on the economy—but critically not on the middle class. The parties are at parity in this battleground on who would do best for the middle class.
  • What Obamacare liability?  The Republicans have just a 3-point edge on health care in this Republican battleground, and just 46 percent oppose the law because it is big government. Every minute Republicans spend on repealing the Affordable Care Act is a minute they are not addressing the economy.  


[1] This survey of 1000 likely 2014 voters in AK, AR, CO, GA, IA, KY, LA, MI, MT, NH, NC, and WV, was conducted by NorthStar Opinion Research with Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps for National Public Radio, June 6-11, 2014. The margin of error for all is ± 3.10 percent; Republicans ± 6.03 percent; Independents ± 4.64 percent; and Democrats ± 6.15 percent. 
 - See more at:

United flight to LA forced to make emergency landing

United flight to LA forced to make emergency landing after escape chute inflates INSIDE the airplane

  • United Airlines flight 1463 was forced to land in Wichita, Kansas
  • It had been bound for John Wayne Airport near LA from Chicago O'Hare
  • The cause of the malfunction is not yet clear
A United Airlines Boeing 737: A similar jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Wichita after its escape chute opened inside the cabin as it flew from Chicago O'Hare to John Wayne Airport near Los Angeles

A passenger jet was forced to divert for an emergency landing when its escape chute accidentally inflated inside the cabin, blocking access to the rear doors.
United Airlines flight 1463 was diverted to Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas, although safety workers insisted the jet never lost cabin pressure.
United said the cause of the opening was unclear, but reports that account contradicts an initial report from 911 operators that someone aboard the jet had tried to open an emergency door.

Read more:

Latino Voters May Help Decide the 2014 Elections

Latinos are once again poised to play a vital role in the outcome of races nationwide this November -- from the local level to the U.S. Senate.  NALEO Educational Fund estimates that more than 7.8 million Latino voters are expected to head to the polls this year, an increase of 1.2 million from 2010.  Projections for the Latino electorate in the following states were released as part of the 2014 Latino Election Handbook:

 Projected Latino VotersIncrease from 2010Projected Latino Share of Vote
New Jersey188,0006.2%7.6%
New Mexico194,0006.0%33.2%
New York546,0005.8%9.4%

NY State Independent Democratic Conference: Were Coming Back to The Main Stream

 For months, there've been rumors, leaks and half-heard reports of all sorts that the renegade Democrats who've handed control of New York's state Senate to the GOP were brokering a deal whereby they'd rejoin their mainstream counterparts—since, after all, Democrats control a majority of seats in the chamber. Now the wayward members of the so-called Independent Democratic Conference, in a joint statement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, want the world to believe that they are in fact coming back:
[Bunch of b.s. about how great the IDC is.]
"Therefore all IDC members are united and agree to work together to form a new majority coalition between the Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate Democratic Conference after the November elections in order to deliver the results that working families across this state still need and deserve."
Note a few things of things here. For one, the IDC isn't saying they're definitely going to return to the Democrats—no, they're hedging, saying only they "agree to work together" to form a new coalition. That only means the IDC has agreed to work amongst itself on the concept of rapprochement. Hooray!
That leads us to the next thing: the timetable. The IDC isn't saying it's rejoining the Democrats now, which it easily could if it wanted to. They're just promising to possibly do something in the future, after the elections. The statement mentions November, but the real issue here is the September primaries, where so far two IDC members are being challenged by real Democrats: Sen. Jeff Klein (by Ollie Koppell) and Sen. Tony Avella (by John Liu). The IDC is just trying to undermine these challengers, to give voters less of a reason to fire their senators by making vague pledges that they'll be good. Some day.
That brings us to the final key point about this statement—specifically, what's not in it. The mainstream Senate Democrats didn't sign it—only Cuomo and Klein did. That means there's no actual deal here, nothing of substance. Again, it's just an airy-fairy promise about something that the IDC might do months and months from now.
And no one should ever trust any promise made by Cuomo, considering he started walking back his pledges to the Working Families Party scarcely a day after he earned their endorsement less than a month ago. No one should believe Klein, either, who's spent years trying to convince everyone that he's furthered the cause of progressivism by allying with Republicans.
So in the meantime, progressives need to keep their eyes on the ball. The IDC's promised nothing, and it still needs to go.

Unmarried women can make or break the election in 2014

It's critical to vote in November. If Republicans win, big money will get its way, and even more hard-working women and men will be drowning. You can change that. We have an economic plan, including a women’s economic agenda. When the middle class succeeds, America succeeds. - 

Key findings:
  • Unmarried women can make or break the election in 2014.
  • When 2014 likely voters are exposed to empathetic “in your shoes” messaging and an economic agenda for working women and men, it shifts the vote from -1 to +3.
  • When unmarried women are exposed to the same message framework, they shift from +17 Democratic margin to +31 and their turnout increases by 10 points.
  • The economic agenda for working women and men includes a cluster of powerful policies on helping working mothers, equal pay and equal health insurance, raising the minimum wage and making college affordable to get to better jobs. 
  • GOP attitude toward equal pay has most turnout effect and GOP attacks on Obamacare and economic policies increase Democratic turnout.
  • The national congressional race is tied and stable, with Democrats held back by modest vote among base RAE and unmarried women. 
  • Unmarried women are the main story because they are reporting modest turnout intentions and the vote among this group is now close to 2010 level. But they clearly can be moved and mobilized by “in your shoes” messaging.
  • Two contextual factors: 1. Wrong track and modest job approval for the president, and 2. Increased hostility towards Republicans and Congress.  Which will come to matter more will tell us how the race breaks.
  • Powerful closing rationale: if Republicans win, the people with money win and more working men and women will be drowning.

See more at:

If the Republicans keep the house they will move to Impeach Obama

Yesterday, Boehner told his fellow House Republicans that he will be suing President Obama over his use of executive orders. Boehner didn’t know which executive orders he would sue over, but he is certain that he will be suing. On its surface, the lawsuit looks like more Republican sour grapes over the fact that Barack Obama is president, but Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post started putting a few pieces together, and what is emerging is a plan to impeach Obama.

White House Summit on Working Families

White House Summit on Working Families
Monday, June 23, 2014
Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC

Visit for livestreams of tomorrow’s plenaries and more information about the day’s events. 

Please note that the deadline for press credentialing for the summit has passed.

7:30AM          Breakfast

9:00AM          Opening Remarks
Speakers include:
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress
Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls

9:20AM          First Plenary: Family Matters
Plenary Panel
                        Moderator: Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic
Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University
Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO of EY
Makini Howell, Owner of Plum Bistro Restaurant
Mary Kay Henry, President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Introducer: Kay Thompson

11:00AM        HuffPost Live Segment: Family Matters

11:00AM        BREAKOUT 1: Hourly Workers
Moderator: Karen Finney, MSNBC
Jennifer Piallat, CEO and Owner of Zazie
Maureen Conway, Executive Director of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute
Ai-Jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lynn Albright, Vice President of stores, Gap Inc.
IntroducersKristin Rowe Finkbeiner and Sarah Gamble

BREAKOUT 2:  Compensation
Moderator: Cindi Leive, Glamour
Dane Atkinson, CEO of SumAll
U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Beth Williams, CEO of Roxbury Technology
Victoria Budson, Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Minnesota House Speaker Paul Thissen
Introducer: Kevin Russell

BREAKOUT 3:  Evaluation & Assessment Tools
Moderator: Winnie Stachelberg, CAP
Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media
Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families & Work Institute
Megan Beyer, External Affairs, EDGE Gender Certification

BREAKOUT 4:  Young Women Leaders
                        Opening Remarks: Valerie Jarrett
                        Moderator: Neera Tanden, CAP
Melanie Campbell, President & CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable
Anne Marie Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts USA
U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz Technology
Introducer: Lauren Sills                 

12:30PM         Second Plenary: A 21st Century Economy that Works for Business and Workers:
                        Businesses need to adopt.
                        Speakers include:
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
Betsey Stevenson, Member, Council of Economic Advisors

Plenary Panel
Moderator: Claire Shipman, ABC and Katty Kay, BBC
Bob Moritz, U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner of PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Sheila Marcelo, CEO of
Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of AFL-CIO
Nick Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University
Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewing Company  

1:40PM           THE PRESIDENT Delivers Remarks
Additional speakers:
Maria Shriver interviewed by Maya Harris, CAP
Ellen Bravo, President and Founder of Family Values at Work
Introducer: Lisa Rumain

3:15PM           BREAKOUT 1: Talent Attraction and Retention 
Moderator: Daniella Gibbs Leger, CAP
President Barack Obama talks with the Weithman familyPanelists 
Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson and Johnson
Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs
Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women and Families
Sunil Kumar, Dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack
Introducer: Mary Catherine Halfpenny

BREAKOUT 2:  Structure of the Workplace
Moderator: Carol Evans, Working Mother Magazine
Nancy Lyons, President and CEO of Clockwork Media
Andy Shallal, CEO of Busboys and Poets
Kathleen Christensen, Program Director at the Alfred R. Sloan Foundation
Katherine Archuleta, Director of the Office of Personnel Management
Introducer: Delmy Lemus Bemeosolo

BREAKOUT 3:  Caregiving 
Moderator: Carmel Martin, CAP
David H. Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons
Ariel Kalil, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Chicago
Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center
Eva Blum, Chair and President of the PNC Foundation
Gail Hunt, CEO of National Alliance for Caregiving
Introducer: Shawnta Deniece Jones

BREAKOUT 4:  STEM and Non-Traditional Jobs
Moderator: Fernando Espuelas, Fernando Espuelas Show
Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College
Patrice D’Eramo, Vice President, Americas Field Marketing at Cisco Systems
Rosalind Hudnell, Vice President, Human Resources at Intel Corporation
Avis Yates Rivers, President and CEO of Technology Concepts
Connie Ashbrook, Executive Director at Oregon Tradeswoman, Inc.
Introducer: Sabrina Parsons

3:30PM           HuffPost Live Segment: Career Ladders and Leadership
4:30PM           THIRD PLENARY: Career Ladders and Leadership
Plenary Panel
Moderator: Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC
U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation
Katherine Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics at the Columbia Business School
Debra Lee, CEO of B.E.T.
Gloria Steinem, Activist

5:30PM           Closing Remarks
Speakers include:
Robin Roberts, Anchor, ABC’s Good Morning America
Introducer: Martina Leinz


FACT SHEET: The White House Summit On Working Families
Fighting for Working families; Strengthening our economy

Building on actions he already has taken to help create real, lasting economic security for working families, today the President will announce a set of concrete steps that will create more opportunities for hardworking families to get ahead. Together with the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), the White House is hosting the Summit on Working Families to set an agenda for a 21st century workplace. This fact sheet lays out these new announcements, along with a series of reports the White House Council of Economic Advisers has released ahead of today’s Summit.

Already this year, the President has acted to move our country forward by raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, expanding retirement opportunities, strengthening overtime protections, and signing an Executive Order that protects workers from being retaliated against by their boss if they discuss their wages. At the Summit, the President will build on this progress by signing a Presidential Memorandum to help families better balance work and spending time at home, and announcing a package of both public and private sector efforts that will take a strong stand to protect pregnant working women, increase investments for research to understand the economic benefits of paid leave, expand apprenticeships for women, target resources to help more women enter higher-paying STEM and other fields, and make child care more affordable for working families.

The President’s approach to the kitchen table issues that working families deal with every day is grounded in his own personal experience as well as his understanding that in order to stay competitive and economically successful, American businesses and our country as a whole need to bring our workplace policies into the 21st century. From growing up as the son of a single mom, to paying off his student loans, to raising two young daughters in a household with two working parents, the President learned the value of hard work and understands many of the struggles that American families face today.

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has focused on how we can create real, lasting security for the middle class by strengthening our nation’s workplaces to better support working families. Yet, while studies show that family-friendly workplace policies can enhance businesses’ profitability, many companies report that they lack the tools and expertise to redesign their workplaces to capture this competitive advantage. Too many workplaces still have policies that belong in a Mad Men episode – not the year 2014. When nearly half of all parents have said “no” to a job because it would be too hard on their families, it’s time to act. The President will continue to work with Congress and make progress on his own because working families can no longer wait for Washington to move forward.

Today’s Summit explores how, as the demographics of our workforce change, our workplaces can change to support working families, boost businesses’ bottom lines, and ensure America’s global economic competitiveness  in the coming  decades. The Summit will convene businesses, economists, labor leaders, legislators, advocates and the media for a discussion on issues facing the entire spectrum of working families – from low-wage workers to corporate executives, from young parents to baby boomers caring for their aging parents. The important efforts the President will announce today reflect our belief that we all have a role to play in changing our country’s workplace policies and will be built upon coming out of today’s Summit. In addition, today the White House Council of Economic Advisers is releasing a new report: “Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility,” which is attached and available here. In addition, in recent days, CEA has also released the following reports:

·         “The Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave,” click here to access the report.
·         “Nine Facts about American Families and Work” click here to access the report.

A Year of Action: Building on Progress

Taking Executive Action to Expand Workplace Flexibility. The President will issue a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to implement existing efforts to expand flexible workplace policies to the maximum possible extent. In support of this goal, this executive action will direct agencies to review their workplace flexibilities and programs and report back any best practices and barriers to their use. In addition, the memorandum will make clear that Federal workers have the “right to request” a flexible work arrangement without fear of retaliation, and will direct agencies to establish procedures for addressing these requests by employees. Finally, it will call for training all employees and their supervisors on the effective use of these tools and will direct the Office of Personnel Management to create a new Workplace Flexibility Index that will be published online and updated annually to measure agencies’ success.
Supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 took a crucial step toward protecting pregnant workers, too many women still face discrimination in the workplace and a serious and unmet need for reasonable accommodations that would allow them to keep working while they are pregnant. For that reason, President Obama will urge Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation also would prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.
Empowering Pregnant Workers with Better Information About Their Rights. At the President’s direction, DOL will release a new online map that will be a one-stop shop where working families can learn about the rights of pregnant workers in each state. The map will also allow families to see which states are leading the charge in protecting their rights and which are lagging behind. This live map will continue to reflect any future changes in state and federal policy.
Extending Workplace Protections to All Families Equally. Last year, in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. President Obama called the Court’s decision a victory for same-sex married couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law, and he instructed the Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure the decision, including its implications for federal benefits and programs, was implemented swiftly and smoothly. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has concluded that review. In almost all instances, the government is able to extend benefits to same-sex married couples, regardless of where they live.  Also on Friday, DOL announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend the definition of a “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live. This change will ensure that the FMLA is applied to all families equally, giving spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities to their family.

Promoting Access to Child Care for Workers in Job Training Programs. DOL will make funds available for technical skill training grants to provide low-wage individuals opportunities to advance in their careers in in-demand industries, with $25 million of the competition focused on addressing barriers to training faced by those with childcare responsibilities. With the help of additional public or private funding that it will leverage, these dedicated funds will promote greater availability of activities such as co-location of training and child care services, access to unconventional training delivery times or locations, flexibilities related to scheduling and child care exigencies, and improved access to related child care services. These funds will give more working families a path to secure, higher wage jobs by addressing the significant barriers related to finding and acquiring affordable, high quality child care—including emergency care—while attending skills training programs. For example, evidence shows that single parents who receive child care are much more likely to complete job training programs than those who do not have access to child care. The new competition, which will be launched next year, will aim to increase participation and completion rates of those in training by supporting sustainable and innovative approaches that expand workers’ access to child care.

Expanding Access to High-Quality Child Care. The lack of quality, affordable child care and preschool has enormous economic implications for families. Greater availability of high-quality early care and education enables workers to succeed in their jobs while providing children the resources needed to support their healthy development and prepare them for success in school. Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will release a new report on the Obama Administration’s investments to expand access to high-quality early care and education, including efforts under the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge program, Head Start and Early Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Fund. The report will highlight state progress on establishing standards and improving program quality as well as supporting family-friendly policies that help working parents find high-quality and sustainable child care for their children.

Supporting High-Quality Early Education for All Children. The President has proposed a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child—beginning at birth and continuing to age 5—including expanding evidence-based, voluntary home visits for parents and children, growing the supply of high-quality infant and toddler care through our new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and providing all four-year-old children with access to high-quality preschool. These investments will help close America’s school readiness gap and ensure that children have the chance to enter kindergarten ready for success.  In May, HHS announced a $500 million competitive grant opportunity to support the expansion of Early Head Start and the creation of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. In addition, ED will launch a $250 million Race to the Top competition this year to partner with states and communities to expand access to high-quality, universal preschool programs. HHS will provide new grants in 2014 to serve additional at-risk families during pregnancy and children’s early years through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

Supporting the Creation of State Paid Leave Programs. DOL is targeting funds for Paid Leave Analysis Grants to fund up to five states to conduct research and feasibility studies that could support the development or implementation of state paid leave programs. A preliminary announcement about these grants will be sent this week to all state Governors.  The selection process will give priority to states that can demonstrate commitment to building a knowledge base needed to implement paid leave programs, and can present clearly articulated strategies for leveraging this research to do so. 
Providing Additional Research to Inform and Develop Paid Leave Solutions. DOL is funding two new independent research studies related to employee leave that will examine how paid leave programs impact employers and workers. One study is already underway and focuses on state paid parental leave laws in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The first paper from this study, released today, analyzes the positive impact of the California law ten years after implementation. The second study, which begins next month, will assess the current use of leave by workers and the likely effects of alternative worker leave policies.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap and Expanding Women’s Access to STEM and Other Non-Traditional Occupations. Ensuring that women earn equal pay is essential to improving the economic security of American families and the growth of our middle class and our economy. Women comprise nearly half of the American workforce – yet, on average, they still earn less than similarly qualified men for doing the same job. And the pay gap for women of color is even greater. A significant factor contributing to this persistent gap is the concentration of women in comparatively lower paying and non-supervisory professions. Many high-paying jobs are in fields that require scientific knowledge or technical skills, where women and minorities often have been underrepresented or excluded. For example, despite accounting for half of the college-educated workforce, in 2010, women constituted 37 percent of employed individuals with a highest degree in a science and engineering field and 28 percent of employed individuals in science and engineering occupations. The promise of equal pay for equal work must also be a promise of equal access to better paying, STEM and other non-traditional occupations and the Administration is doing its part to make sure that promise is kept by:

o   Federal Science Agencies Leading Efforts to Increase Women in STEM Research Careers. The Department of Energy (DOE) will announce new partnerships with 100kin10and US2020 to expand their Women @ Energy series profiling women in Federal STEM careers to inspire the next generation of energy scientists and engineers. The National Science Foundation will implement nearly a year ahead of schedule cost allowance policies for childcare at professional conferences that lesson the challenges for working families. With these and other family friendly policies, Federal science research agencies are stepping up to reduce the false choice faced by women and men entering research careers of starting a family or continuing on a trajectory to productive faculty research positions. And NIH today will release a comprehensive summary of research on barriers and opportunities to attract and retain women in biomedical science careers and will use this evidence base to guide Administration policies to broaden participation and success in STEM fields.

o   Mobilizing Colleges to Improve College Access and Success for Underserved Students. College and Universities have launched new programs, scholarships, and outreach, in response to the President and First Lady’s call at the White House College Opportunity event in January 2014, to expand STEM college completion for more underserved students, including broadening achievement to women and minorities in STEM fields in which they are under-represented. In particular, significant steps have been taken by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Harvey Mudd College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wellesley College, and Stony Brook University.  

o   Expanding Access to Higher-Paying Jobs in Construction Fields for Women. Women hold only 2.6 percent of constructions jobs – and that number is virtually unchanged over the past 35 years. When the employment rates of women of color in construction are examined, the statistics are even bleaker. The Administration is working to reverse this imbalance. Through its Mega-Construction Projects (MCP) Initiative, DOL convenes parties involved in large-scale, high-profile construction projects around the country – including contractors, unions, community leaders, and advocates – to ensure coordination and compliance with equal employment obligations. Designed to address the historical underrepresentation of minorities and women in skilled construction trades, the MCP Initiative enables contractors to identify qualified women and minority workers more easily. 

o   Launching a New Public-Private Partnership to Recruit and Train Women for STEM Fields and Apprenticeships. Jobs for the Future and Wider Opportunities for Women are committing to adapt and expand their Pink to Green Tool-Kit from its current focus on recruiting and retaining women in training programs for green sector jobs to a broader focus on training in STEM careers that hold the promise of new and high-potential career paths for women. In particular, JFF and WOW will work with the Administration to promote the toolkit to potential applicants for the $100M American Apprenticeship Grants to assist in increasing the number of women and other underrepresented groups in apprenticeships.

o   Releasing a Resource Guide on Women and Minorities in Apprenticeships. DOL is releasing a resource guide on women and minorities in apprenticeships, including tools to help employers and community-based organizations increase the representation of women and minorities in apprenticeships, as well as improve performance and completion rates.

o   Creating a Clearinghouse for Women Accessing Non-Traditional Occupations. DOL is developing a digital clearinghouse to share the latest and best information on access to non-traditional occupations, including promising industry practices, job and training opportunities, and relevant research and data for use by trade associations, training organizations, employers, and women interested in non-traditional occupations and apprenticeship opportunities.

o   Investments in Research to Understand Barriers Preventing Women’s Full Access to Non-Traditional Occupations. ED is commissioning a study that will examine whether girls and young women in high school have access to high-quality programs that prepare them for careers that are non-traditional for women. Similarly, DOL has commissioned studies that evaluate existing adult and dislocated worker programs to identify the barriers that women face in accessing non-traditional occupations. DOL soon will release summary data on women’s participation in transportation, technology and manufacturing fields.

o   Changing the Odds for Marginalized Girls. Later this year, ED and Georgetown University will convene thought leaders, policy makers, practitioners, researchers, advocates and marginalized girls and young women to focus on ending barriers and other challenges that girls and young women face in accessing and completing career and technical education and other rigorous college and career preparation programs. This convening will produce and help inform policy and programmatic proposals to help disrupt patterns of gender-based occupational segregation by increasing young women’s and girls’ participation in programs that prepare them for high-skill, high-wage jobs, including non-traditional occupations. The aim is to develop a going-forward strategy to prepare women and girls for in-demand careers within high-growth industry sectors.

o   Enforcing Federal Employment Nondiscrimination Laws to Ensure Men and Women Have Equal Access to Job Opportunities. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), DOJ, and DOL remain committed to enforcement of federal laws requiring equal employment opportunity without regard to gender. Through outreach and technical assistance to foster voluntary compliance, and through enforcement and litigation where necessary, EEOC, DOJ and DOL are working to prevent and remedy discriminatory practices that “steer” women and men into specific jobs based on gender or impose barriers to hiring and advancement that exclude qualified women, and also to prevent and remedy sexual harassment and other practices that can discourage men and women from working in traditionally gender-segregated occupations.  

o   Building an Information Portal for Federal Job-Seekers and Human Resource Professionals.OPM’s Recruitment Policy and Outreach Office soon will release a web-based “studio” for Federal human resources professionals and for job seekers, including women and girls. These resources are designed to help job seekers, including women, enhance their job search in all occupational areas, including STEM and other hard-to-fill occupations, and those in which they are traditionally underrepresented.

The Administration is joined in these efforts by private sector and non-profit partners:

o   Attracting New Talent to Technology Careers. The National Center for Women & Information Technology will announce a new commitment to add thousands of new technical women to the U.S. talent pool by 2016 through their Pacesetters program, and is expanding access to the “Transforming Technical Job Ads” initiative, an effort to produce job ads with more inclusive language to encourage more female applicants, to over 150 corporate and small business and more than 300 college and university partners in the coming months.

o   Reaching Parents with New Tools to Inspire their Daughters to Become Engineers. The Society of Women Engineers, will release new online training tools for parents, educators, and mentors to inspire and encourage more young girls to pursue engineering careers. With funding from the S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, the online resource gives parents information and tools to understand how engineering can improve girls’ academic achievement and career prospects, and gives teachers and mentors activities to use with students to engage and build their interests in STEM fields. This new training builds on a series of publicly available tools to encourage women and girls to pursue and succeed in engineering careers.

Tax Credits for Working Families. Recognizing the importance of tax relief for working families, the President enacted, and Congress extended with bipartisan support through 2017, significant improvements to tax credits for working families. These include expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit, which strengthen work incentives and help parents afford the costs of raising a family, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps working and middle-class families pay for college. Together, these improvements provide about $25 billion in tax relief to 26 million families every year. The President’s Budget proposes to make these improvements permanent, while doing even more to promote work and support families through improving tax credits that help families with young children afford the rising costs of child care, and the EITC for workers without children, including non-custodial parents.

Convening Businesses and Stakeholders to Identify and Share Innovative Solutions. A group of companies and businesses, including Bright Horizons Family Solutions,, Ernst & Young, Johnson and Johnson, and KPMG are coming together to launch a working group that that will bring together companies across diverse industries to explore ways they can address the needs of working families in today’s changing economy. In consultation with the Administration, the group will identify ways that employers can measure their own progress and help ensure they have effective practices in place to respond to workers’ work-life needs, retain the best talent, and are well-positioned for success in the 21st century global economy.

Working with Unions and Labor Management Partnerships to Expand Quality Training Programs to Provide Pathways to Middle-Class Jobs. In partnership with ED, over forty unions and labor management organizations have pledged to expand low-skilled workers’ access to their training programs and share best practices on effective workforce and career pathway programs. These organizations are well-positioned to expand opportunities for women to improve their foundation skills to access higher-wage occupations in the fields of healthcare, construction, transportation, and manufacturing. This collaboration represents partnerships with almost 8,000 employers and will provide unprecedented access to educational and training opportunities as well as supportive services necessary for women and working families to be successful.